As you’ll see from my Last.fm profile, I’ve been listening to a lot of Daft Punk lately. For those who haven’t heard their stuff, this track in particular is the one I think best sums them up:
Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail, upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag it, drop it, zip, unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam, unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pose it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch, update it,
Name it, read it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax, rename it,
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, start, format it,
Sound familiar? Thought so – it’s the soundtrack to our modern lives.
And it begs the question: are we slaves to our media or is the media subject to us?
Digital Media (as referred to in the above) is the most pliable of all forms, possibly all materials. But do we lose anything by acting as their conduit? Do we define their being by the act of using them?
By way of answer, Marshall McLuhan states that:
Physiologically, man in the normal use of technology […] is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds ever new ways of modifying his technology. Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee to the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms.
(Understanding Media, 1967:56)
Punchy stuff indeed, and his point rings truer now than in 1967 when it was first written (for more McLuhanism check out The MemeStream, an older academic blog of mine). The relationship between Man and Machine is blurred in Daft Punk’s own appearance – they are never seen in public without their robot masks.
As I see it, Daft Punk have tapped into the zeitgeist of a world growing ever-reliant on our technologies, without much thought of how these forms may be exploiting us. It’s a beat-heavy warning to the masses to stay human, and not to be anyone’s “sex organ”.
So what do we think? Are these French electro-popsters oracles for a future world? Answers on a postcard please, or in the comments box below.